After handing in my final piece of work after studying for four years, I have been feeling very nostalgic and grateful to have had such a great time at university. However, that does not go without saying that I have certainly had my ups and downs; it has all been one, big learning experience (outside of lectures too!). So, as an almost-graduate, I have put together my top tips for freshers just starting their university journey!
1. Attend fresher’s week events
From the Fresher’s Fair to Thorpe Park, the fresher’s week events hosted by the University of Roehampton were an amazing way to meet new friends and bond with my new flatmates. Guided by our flat rep, we gained new confidence to explore the campus over the course of the week, as well as the confidence to delve into the enormous amount of societies the university had to offer. The fair even gives new students a welcome tote bag filled with lots of goodies to help them settle in (we all love freebies!). It’s a great idea to put yourself out there and try new things when moving to a new place, and the fresher’s week is a great place to start!
2. Try new things
Whether trying a new sport or joining a society, this can be a great way to find other students with similar interests to yourself outside of the classroom. When I started university, I was one of the least sporty people I knew. I was excited to meet new people and maybe find a new hobby, so I decided to throw myself into women’s rugby – why not? Starting with only being involved in training for fitness quickly led to me becoming part of their competing team, boosting my confidence immensely and giving me a passion for fitness.
3. Explore your new home
If, like me, your choice of university was partly based on the desire to have a change of scenery, then definitely make time to explore the area around your university. Moving from a small town to London, although daunting, was a very exciting and big step for me. When I moved here I made a considerable effort to explore the city, using my first year to play the tourist and familiarise myself with my new home. Although I did a great deal of exploration on my own, I also went on some fantastic days out with my flatmates to places such as Tate Modern and the Great British Museum.
4. Make sure to budget!
That first student loan arriving in your bank account after moving in can be very exciting, but remember – it has to last you until the next loan arrives in January! To make sure you don’t spend it all at once, it’s worth putting together a plan before it arrives; how much will you need to put aside for rent? How much will you spend on groceries each week? Do you have any subscriptions to pay for each month? Once you have figured out a budget, it removes a lot of the stress about whether you will have enough money, and whether you may need to get a part-time job to top your funds up.
5. Always keep tinned and frozen food available
Whether it’s been a particularly heavy week filled with assignments and lectures or you’re tired after a rather late night out, there will be times when cooking sounds like the biggest effort in the world. Pretty early on in my time at university, I figured out that frozen and tinned foods are a student’s best friend. Cheap, easy to store, and generally better for you than budget-friendly takeouts, adding items such as tinned soup, frozen ready meals, and even extra groceries so you can make an extra portion of a meal to freeze can save you a lot of money and give you a tasty meal, even if you really don’t feel like making an effort to cook.
6. Create a healthy work-life balance
Although there are lots of new places to explore and lots of new people to meet, do not ignore your deadlines or leave them until the last minute! It’s important to not work yourself to death, but likewise, do not spend every waking minute partying. There’s plenty of time for both; find the balance! If you give yourself plenty of time to begin an assignment, you can easily spread it out to allow for lots of time to rest and socialise. Make sure to give yourself some self-care days too so you don’t burn yourself out.
7. Look after both your physical and mental health
Anyone who has experienced those first few weeks as a fresher will tell you that adjusting to your new environment, new routine, and new friends can feel like a lot to handle. So, now more than ever, it’s so important to listen to your body and take time out for yourself when you need to. Although it may be tempting to go to every social event you see advertised, think realistically about whether a couple of nights in watching one of your favourite shows each week could help you avoid burning out. Your physical health can be affected by your mental health; if you listen to your body and mind and don’t exhaust or stress them too much, then they will look after you too.